KEIR RADNEDGE in OLOMOUC: Remember the name: Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva. For simplicity’s sake, mere Bernardo Silva. He stands 5ft 6in (1.73m) but he towers head and shoulders over the UEFA U21 Euro.
The 20-year-old whom Benfica, to the anger of their fans, sold to Monaco last year, was superb in Group B in the Czech Republic when Portugal beat England and drew with Italy and Sweden.
But he – and his team-mates – raised their game to another level entirely in the semi-final against an entirely worthy German side. They danced out 5-0 winners against opponents reduced to a helplessly techy 10 men by the expulsion of substitute Leonardo Billencourt.
By the time Bernardo Silva – all nimble craft and class – had been substituted after a mere 49 minutes he had sliced Horst Hrubesch’s boys into tiny scraps of football cannon fodder.
German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a Champions League winner with Barcelona three weeks ago, had already been beaten four times and Portugal were cruising towards a final in Prague next Tuesday against Denmark or Sweden.
Bernardo Silva scored the first himself, seizing on a return pass from Ivan Cavaleiro and demonstrating precisely how to rifle past a goalkeeper, one on one.
He played a creative role in the next two goals from Ricardo and Cavaleiro which saw Portugal in three-goal command at the interval. Less than a minute into the second half and he had helped set up a fourth for Joao Mario.
Substitute Ricardo Horta headed a close-range fifth in the 71st before Bittencourt was sent off after collecting two yellow cards in a mere 25 minutes on the pitch.
All the while Portugal slipped, flipped and clipped the ball in and around German players spun dizzy by the apparently effortless creativity of it all.
Portugal’s stars – not only Silva but the midfield fulcrum William Carvalho, the fleet-footed wide forwards Ricardo and Cavaleiro and solid keeper Jose Sa – had had a day less refreshment and relaxation than Germany to prepare for the game; the Germans should be grateful for small mercies.